Sunday 25 September 2016

Thousands attend gay marriage march in Belfast

Michael McHugh

Published 13/06/2015 | 19:43

Lady Portia Di'Monte (C) takes part in the Rainbow Project rally for marriage equality in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
Lady Portia Di'Monte (C) takes part in the Rainbow Project rally for marriage equality in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
A woman with a rainbow painted takes part in the Rainbow Project rally for marriage equality in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff
Lady Portia Di'Monte (C) leads the march during the Rainbow Project rally for marriage equality in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
Campaigners attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People hold placards as they take part in the Rainbow Project rally for marriage equality in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 13, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra
Northern Irish actresses Niamh McGrady and Bronagh Waugh (right) attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Representatives from the Hazelwood Integrated College, "Gay Straight Whatvever" group and the Shimna Integrated College, "Gay Straight Alliance" group address the campaigners at a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Campaigner Emma Chism-Doyle with her 10 month-old son Leo attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Campaigners attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 13, 2015. Thousands of people walked through Belfast today in a rally for gay marriage rights. Following the Yes vote in last month's Irish referendum, Northern Ireland is now set to be the only part of the UK or Ireland where civil marriage is denied to gay couples, campaigners said. Actress Nuala McKeever is expected to address protesters. Unionists earlier this year rejected a proposal from Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to hold a referendum on the issue similar to the Republic. The Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected a proposal calling for the introduction of gay marriage, after debating the issue for a fourth time. Sinn Fein said equality rights for same-sex couples must be shared by citizens in the north and it will continue to campaign for the reform. See PA story ULSTER Marriage. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Campaigners Patsy Brennan (left), aged 95 with her daughter-in-law Rita Simmonds attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Campaigners attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Campaigners attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Campaigners Gwen Doherty and Kevin Murray (right) attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Campaigners attend a rally in Belfast to show their support for marriage equality. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Around 20,000 gay rights campaigners have marched in Belfast demanding a change in the law to allow gay marriage.

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The crowd, organised by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Rainbow Project, said they want parity with the rest of the UK and Ireland in permitting civil marriage for gay couples.

Addressing the rally, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director, said: "Isn't this the most beautiful march and rally Belfast has ever seen? A march about love.

"We are all here today because of a simple idea: all people are equal. The state should treat all people equally.

"Marriage equality is a human rights issue. Human rights are very clear on the issue of equality. Article one of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights'.

"So it is simply unacceptable for the state to discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Amnesty International believes that states should end discrimination on this basis and instead ensure that all families are equally protected before the law.

"That's why we are on the march today and why we will walk every step of the way with you and the LGBTI community, and why we will not stop until every one of us can enjoy the same rights and recognition before the law."

The Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected a proposal calling for the introduction of gay marriage after debating the issue for a fourth time.

Sinn Fein said equality rights for same-sex couples must be shared by citizens in the north and it will continue to campaign for the reform.

Other high profile supporters of the campaign include singer Brian Kennedy and Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes.

Singer Bronagh Gallagher, supported by Quire, Belfast's LGBT choir, performed at the Belfast City Hall rally, which followed the march from the Ulster University on York Street.

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